Sunday, August 18, 2019

Yon Rogar’s Hat

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Illustration from The Violet Fairy Book, public domain

Yon Rogar’s Hat
by Larry Heyl

It was late afternoon and Yon Rogar eyed his woodpile. There was no way that tiny little bit of wood was going to get him through fair day, tomorrow. The woodcutter was late with his delivery, probably carving on one of those statues of his. Yon decided to go after some wood himself. He threw his ax in his barrow and pushed it across the bridge to the Wilken Woods.

As usual it was slim pickings with very little deadwood on the ground. Yon picked up a few pieces and then pushed his barrow deeper into the woods. This was more like it, he picked up a few more pieces and then eyed a dead branch, about to fall off an old oak tree. That one branch would fill his barrow, he thought, so he reached up and gave it a tug. It was still well stuck to the tree and Yon couldn’t pull it loose. So he reached up with his ax and gave it a good chop. That did it. The branch fell at his feet.

It was then that he heard the moaning, deeper than a person or an animal would make and more substantial than the wind. He looked around but he didn’t see anything moaning. The wind was picking up, blowing through the leaves with a whooshing sound and the moaning was getting louder. The branches started to thrash about but not like they should in a wind. They were like the arms of a giant, moving with purpose.

One of the branches knocked the ax out of his hand. One slapped at his face and when he ducked it took his hat off. Yon was frightened. He threw the ax and the dead limb into his barrow and he ran for the bridge, leaving his hat behind.

The branch didn’t really fit in the barrow and everywhere it hung out it was getting caught on scrub and bushes. Yon just bulled through never even slowing down until he was out of Wilken’s Woods.

He threw the dead limb on the ground and made short work of it with the ax cutting it into pieces small enough to fit in the barrow. He worked up a sweat and wiped his brow noticing his hat was missing. “I’ll go after it later.” he thought as he loaded the wood into the barrow and pushed it across the bridge.

After he had stacked the wood he was still hot so he went to the Inn for a pint. “I’ll have a story to tell tonight, that’s for sure.” he thought.

He never did go back after his hat.

Epilogue

About a month later Yon Rogar was at the woodcutter’s cabin bringing payment for some wood left at his forge and making another order. After they were done with business Yon looked around and right there, on one of those ax hewn wood statues, was his hat, sitting on that wood head just like it belonged there.

Thinking the woodcutter had found his hat in the woods Jon said, “That fellow there is wearing my hat.”

The woodcutter said, “Well, it was your hat, but I see you’ve got another one now.”

“Still, I liked that hat better. I think I’ll just take it home and clean it up.”

“Best not,” said the woodcutter, “You lost your hat to the woods and it’s yours no more. Ain’t no use in stirring up trouble or that fellow with your hat might come a visiting, looking for it.”

So Yon thought better of retrieving the hat and on the walk home he near convinced himself that he liked the new hat better. It did leave him wondering though, how the woodcutter knew he had lost his hat in a fight with the woods.

“Yon Rogar’s Hat” by Larry Heyl is licensed CC BY. There is more about Milyagon including Mini Zine Quests at minizines.cc.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Space Beagle - Lift Off

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First Edition

E. Grosvenor log entry t-1
The Space Beagle is departing in the morning.
Although the rest of the crew seems competent I am the only
Nexialist aboard.
I am getting used to sideways looks.
They don’t seem to know what to think of me.
They are mostly old space hands.
But none of us has done anything like this before.
If all goes well we may return before we die.
The more I explain the odds against everything going well
the less they want to talk to me.
I did the math, I know I’m right.
That doesn’t make me popular.
The next time I make a log entry we’ll all be in space.
I’m as excited as a podcaster.

This is my first log entry on my Cosmic Voyage. I have decided to play off of the A.E. VanVogt novel, Voyage Of The Space Beagle.

My text is CC-BY

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Seventeen Haikus

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Basho by Hokusai - public domain

Seventeen Haikus
by Larry Heyl

The first haiku was
the last one written. A glimpse
into the future.

Honored instructor,

I know this is not my assignment but I have just completed the most remarkable work. Against all dicta I was overtaken by a creative impulse. Three days ago seventeen haikus poured out as if written by the hand of God. Of course it was my hand and my brain so these haikus were quite flawed in form and substance. I have spent the last three days perfecting this work, still under the direction of the divine, and I can find no further way to improve them.

They are a masterwork, short as they may be. I know this in my soul. Although I know we are tasked with studying the work of our ancestors and we are foresworn against the production of new art I could not stop myself. It was as if I was possessed by angels. The words came alive. They forced my hand to write and revise. Now I am done.

I would like to read my work to you. I feel that is the best way to unfold it. The seventeen haikus are meant to be read aloud.

I feel I must include at least one. So here is the seventeenth haiku, about silence.

Silence permeates
the ethos. This is not death.
Still, this is silence.

As soon as I sent this message I had second thoughts. What if instead of allowing me to read to him he turned me in. He was a full professor after all. The Stasis could come down on him as well as me.

I had a sick feeling in my stomach. I was not worried about the enforcers. I was not afraid of death. But the seventeen haikus had to live. That was most important.

So I made a file, seventeenhaikus.txt, and I posted it to every group I was part of. Scholars all over the world would share this burden. It was the best I could do.

Three hours later the enforcers came. They were too late.

300 years later schools of the New Renaissance covered the planet teaching the seventeen haikus as their core curricula. They were a revered text but they could not be taught as revered. For as soon as they were read aloud all who heard them knew they too had to create. Some wrote haikus, some novels. Some played music. Some painted, danced, or sculpted. But it was all new art. The Stasis had ended.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Hegel, Nietzsche, and Wittgenstein

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Photo by PhotoVision on pixabay - public domain

Hegel, Nietzsche, and Wittgenstein
by Larry Heyl

It was my brother Jeff who was the doer. Always making things, working on this or that, good at math and physics in school.

I was the thinker. Always gazing off into the distance pondering the big questions. What is life? What is death? What is man? What is woman?

It’s that last one that really puzzled me. Jeff got married, started his own business, got rich. I got tongue tied around girls, took a philosophy degree, and had an income commensurate with my degree. I check the want ads daily. Never have I seen Philosopher Needed - Top Dollar.

So I never understood why the aliens abducted me. It was Jeff they wanted. They must have got their wires crossed.

Now I’m not gay but I didn’t mind the anal probe so much. Learning the alien language wasn’t too bad either. They put a silver disc on my forehead and I started talking to them. It was the interview that really got them.

They kept asking about stuff I didn’t know, technology, armaments, rocket ships, manufacturing. I wasn’t much help. But I gave them a good dose of Hegel, Nietzsche, and Wittgenstein. I don’t think they were ready for that. They started babbling. They sent me up the ladder. I kept expounding and their confusion deepened. Evidently philosophy wasn’t their strong suit. Like I said they got the wrong guy.

They could only deal with me for so long. Before I knew it they had beamed me back home and departed Earth post haste. And that’s how I saved the world with philosophy.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Chaos In The Eye Of God

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Photo by Marvin(PA) on flickr CC BY-NC

Chaos In The Eye Of God
by Larry Heyl

“For a while there the universe was clockwork. All cause and effect. Every action had an equal and opposite reaction.”

Dr. Shengwei was lecturing his class. Physics 101. He hadn’t started in on the math yet.

“But the more we tried to describe the more complicated the descriptions became. The systems outpaced our equations. We could no longer make valid predictions. Since we saw chaos we described it as chaos. Chaos Theory became the new thing. But it was more of an excuse for why our predictions were failing than a way to make predictions.”

“Is the universe clockwork and completely predictable? Or is it a chaotic mess with no prediction possible? Or is it both? ‘It can’t be both!’ you say. But we are looking through the eyes of man. Maybe the human mind is the limitation here. Maybe in the eye of God chaos is simple.”

He could tell he was starting to lose them. He could see the big question forming behind their eyes. What does God have to do with physics? They were expecting math but they were getting theology. Einstein said, “God does not play dice with the universe”. The students were getting anxious. Uncomfortable. He would have to start on the math soon. Then they would wish he was still talking about God.

“Godel proved that in any formal system complex enough to describe itself, even systems as simple as axiomatic algebra, There would be statements that can’t be proven or disproven and statements that hadn’t yet been proven or disproven. Godel also showed that there was no way to distinguish between the two. Only God would know whether a statement that hadn’t been proven could be proved or not. At least until a man or woman could prove or disprove it.”

Dr Shengwei turned to the board and started in on the math. When he looked out at the class the uncertaintly and anxiety was gone. This was what they had been expecting. Now the uncertainty and anxiety was replaced with confusion.

Behind every pair of eyes there was a chaotic system known as a human brain. Was the human brain essentially chaotic or was it only chaotic as perceived by the human brain? In the eye of God even the human brain is simple.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Sweet Mary

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Artwork by Arthur Rackham - public domain

Sweet Mary
by Larry Heyl

Sweet Mary was born in the spring. Her parents were well off and unconventional. Which in itself was strange because Mary was quite conventional. She occupied herself with being a very normal baby until Christmas. Even though she was only nine months old when Kris Kringle came she got a big sparkle in her eye and you could see joy radiate from her and light the room. She was brighter than the tree.

As she grew she remained very conventional. She would read, draw, and walk in the forest. And when Christmas came each year Kris Kringle brought her books, paper, charcoal, crayons, and walking boots. It wasn’t the presents that made her glow. She just loved Christmas in an extraordinary way. It is normal for children to love Christmas but for Sweet Mary her joy of Christmas was unconventionally exuberant.

And so Mary would walk in the woods, reading and drawing, and the years drifted by. Until one fall, at the top of the hill, she found a fairy circle of big beautiful mushrooms and unknowingly she walked through it. She made friends in Feyland, Puck, Took, and Willow. For fairies they were still young and the four of them would romp through the woods playing fairy games almost as if Sweet Mary belonged there. But she loved her parents very much and after a few hours she would always go home. She was still conventional enough not to eat between meals so she could always find the fairy circle and the path back to her house. When she greeted her parents she had that sparkle in her eye they had only seen at Christmas and they very much approved. They quickly grew used to her radiating joy after returning from her walks in the woods.

Then one year she grew up, as girls do, and in the fall when she found the fairy circle she was a maid, even though she didn’t really know what that meant yet. Puck, Took, and Willow knew what it meant and since they were in Feyland it wasn’t long before they were enjoying themselves as fairies do for fairies have no thought for the future and no concerns about morality, they live and love in the presnt moment only concerned about their own pleasure and enjoyment.

And Mary in Feyland was the same. Conventional no more she also lived for pleasure in the present and greatly enjoyed Puck, Took, and Willow.

When she came home for supper her glow would light the room. Here parents could see she had changed but they were unconventional and left Mary to her pursuits. Mary said nothing of her time in Feyland to her parents. It was her secret.

But when winter came and the fairy circle was gone and her belly began to swell it could be a secret no more. Her mother loved her very much and took her into her confidence explaining the ways of the world to Sweet Mary. But she did not ask after the father because she feared if they found the father he would soon become a husband and take Sweet Mary away. And Mary did not talk about the father either, whether Puck or Took she did not know, and she certainly did not know how do explain her time in Feyland.

In early summer the babe was born and it was a good thing Mary’s parents were unconventional because little Pookie was clearly fey. Her parents were well aware of the dangers of raising a fey child and so they set up all night, every night, taking watches, so the fairies could not steal the babe away. And Sweet Mary, with a babe at her breast forego her trips through the fairy circle, perhaps Puck, Took, and Willow missed her, perhaps not.

In fact, her parents were well pleased with their grandchild. They were unconventional and aware of the fey blood in their own ancestry, weak as it was. They married each other to preserve their heritage and were glad for the fresh infusion of fey blood into their family line. And they were overjoyed when they set up the tree and the babe just smiled and giggled, loving the Christmas spectacle.

So when little Pookie was three and safe from abduction they encouraged Mary to go back to the woods where she once again walked through the fairy circle. Puck, Took, and Willow were most pleased to see her and Sweet Mary once more enjoyed afternoons full of pleasure and companionship. But she said nothing of little Pookie. She had learned, in her life, to keep secrets.

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Monday, September 17, 2018

Scroogled by Cory Docotorow - The Day Google Became Evil

Originally published in RADAR, Doctorow has released this story under a Creative Commons License.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Download this and other Creative Commons short stories in a Cory Doctorow anthology, “With A Little Help”. Click here.

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Photo of Croy Doctorow by Joi Ito. CC-BY Hosted on flickr.

Scroogled

“Give me six lines written by the most honorable of men, and I will find an
excuse in them to hang him.” - Cardinal Richelieu

Greg landed at SFO at 8PM, but by the time he made it to the front of the
customs line it was after midnight. He had it good — he’d been in first class,
first off the plane, brown as a nut and loose-limbed after a month on the beach
at Cabo, SCUBA diving three days a week, bumming around and flirting with
French college girls the rest of the time. When he’d left San Francisco a month
before, he’d been a stoop-shouldered, pot-bellied wreck — now he was a bronze
god, drawing appreciative looks from the stews at the front of the plane.

In the four hours he spent in the customs line, he fell from god back to man.
His warm buzz wore off, the sweat ran down the crack of his ass, and his
shoulders and neck grew so tense that his upper back felt like a tennis racket.
The batteries on his iPod died after the third hour, leaving him with nothing
to do except eavesdrop on the middle-aged couple ahead of him.

“They’ve starting googling us at the border,” she said. “I told you they’d do
it.”

“I thought that didn’t start until next month?” The man had brought a huge
sombrero on board, carefully stowing it in its own overhead locker, and now he
was stuck alternately wearing it and holding it.

Googling at the border. Christ. Greg vested out from Google six months before,
cashing in his options and “taking some me time,” which turned out to be harder
than he expected. Five months later, what he’d mostly done is fix his friends’
PCs and websites, and watch daytime TV, and gain ten pounds, which he blamed on
being at home, instead of in the Googleplex, with its excellent 24-hour gym.

The writing had been on the wall. Google had a whole pod of lawyers in charge
of dealing with the world’s governments, and scumbag lobbyists on the Hill to
try to keep the law from turning them into the world’s best snitch. It was a
losing battle. The US Government had spent $15 /billion/ on a program to
fingerprint and photograph visitors at the border, and hadn’t caught /a single/
terrorist. Clearly, the public sector was not equipped to Do Search Right.

The DHS officers had bags under their eyes as they squinted at their screens,
prodding mistrustfully at their keyboards with sausage fingers. No wonder it
was taking four hours to get out of the goddamned airport.

“Evening,” he said, as he handed the man his sweaty passport. The man grunted
and swiped it, then stared at his screen, clicking. A lot. He had a little bit
of dried food in the corner of his mouth and his tongue crept out and licked at
it as he concentrated.

“Want to tell me about June, 1998?”

Greg turned his head this way and that. “I’m sorry?”

“You posted a message to alt.burningman on June 17, 1998 about your plan to
attend Burning Man. You posted, ‘Would taking shrooms be a really bad idea?’”

[Read more…]

Sunday, June 3, 2018

All Cliff Hangers

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Elite Dangerous image by Stefans02 - CC-BY

Madge chewed furiously as the escaping air whistled past her ears. Then she slapped the wad of chewing gum over the hole and the cold of space immediately froze it into place. She grabbed a roll of duct tape from her utility belt and duct taped a nice X over the patch. Speaking into her log she added “Standard emergency patch, chewing gum and duct tape.”

“That was close.” she thought. “If that hole had been a half inch bigger the air would have sucked her gum right out into space and there would have been a Madge patch duct taped to the wall.”

“Navigation report!” said the Captain.

“We’ve got problems.” said the navigator. “You know that little asteroid that just punctured Madge’s cabin? Well, it’s mama is following right behind.”

Madge looked out her porthole and sure enough. There was one mother of an asteroid heading straight at her. She didn’t know what to do so she crawled under the bed. Her whole cabin shook when the asteroid hit.

hairylarry posted on 2018-06-02 at 23:22 Central Time.

A start of a story on Collab. Join Collab and add your cliff hanger to “All Cliff Hangers”. All of the stories on Collab are CC-BY.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Little Miss Tuffet

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Image from of “Fairy roads to Science-Town” (1919) - Public Domain

Little Miss Tuffet sat on her Muffet because it was eating her cottage cheese.

Along came an eight legged creature who began to sneeze.

Miss Tuffit cried, “Would you stop that please.”

“I would if I could but I’m allergic to Muffets, especially when they eat cottage cheese.” he replied.

The Muffet said “I’m not scared of spiders and continued eating his cottage cheese.”

Miss Tuffit said, “I am”, and ran off.

The Muffet said “That’s a load off my back. Thank you spider. Do you want some cottage cheese?”

These writers contributed to “Little Miss Tuffit “ on Collab - hairylarry, vivian

All stories on Collab are CC-BY.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

The Owl Princess

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The Owl Princess by Deevad on deviantart. CC BY-SA

Deevad aka David Revoy also does Pepper and Carrot previously featured on SFF Short Stories. Most of his work is available with Creative Commons licenses some free culture and some non-commercial no-derivatives.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

The Chaotic Diaspora

The Chaotic Diaspora
by Larry Heyl CC-BY

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Rocket ship artwork by metalandrew on Pixabay Public Domain

In 2061 three of the nations top astronomers took the news to the president. The next day the ambassador spoke at the United Nations. There was no doubt. The orbit had been calculated and checked. In 960 days a comet was going to hit the earth.

Astronomers all over the world confirmed the observations. The internet burned up with possible solutions that quickly became two. “Save The World” and “Get The Hell Out”. Generally speaking the East wanted to STW while the West wanted to GTHO. PTP or “Populate The Planets” was quickly seen as a death trap but a few small nations still chose PTP.

To STW nuclear rockets would be launched to land on the comet nose first and to move the comet sunward just enough to miss the earth. To GTHO nuclear powered generation ships would be launched carrying the seed of humanity out to the stars. This is considered to be the most important event in the history of man. It has been called The Chaotic Diaspora.

In The Chaotic Diaspora many tales were told.

This is the start to this story on Collab. Collab is a social network for collaborative writing. If you want to contribute to this or other stories on Collab you can create an account here.

Collab, a collaborative writing game.

Monday, February 26, 2018

I Dreamed That I Woke Up

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Artwork by Dieterich01 available on Pixabay. Public domain.

I Dreamed That I Woke Up
by Larry Heyl CC-BY

I dreamed that I woke up and walked into the living room and sat down at my computer. Then, when I woke up I was afraid to walk into the living room because I thought I might find myself sitting there. “This is silly.”, I said to myself, and I went ahead and walked right in and sat at my computer. But then I thought maybe I already left while I was still sleeping. So I got up and locked the door to keep myself from coming in.

When I heard a knock on the door I was worried that I had returned home. But I unlocked it anyway and it was only my friend Fred. I told him what was going on in my head and we both had a big laugh.

Then I heard a knock at the door. I was worried it might be me but it wasn’t. When I went to open the door it was Fred.

I guess he dreamed that he woke up too.